"Don't Like Most Things"
On June 22, Rochester musician Justin Pallini — under the moniker Soft Opening — quietly released an endearing summer record that provides a great balance between garage-rock party vibes and introspective singer-songwriter opining. The six-song set, "Don't Like Most Things," has 90's nostalgia all over it, from the punky, catchy sludge rock of "I Hate You" to the sparkling, atmospheric guitar churn in "Just Don't Let Go."
Pallini, who acts as lead singer, guitarist, and co-producer here, did well to recruit some of the city's best indie rock musicians. The result is a stellar "Who's Who" backing band: Ben Morey on bass guitar and sharing producing credits; Jesse Amesmith and Trevor Amesmith of Green Dreams and CD-ROM on sax and drums, respectively; and Anamon's Emily Monaco plays Rhodes piano, and both she and Katie Preston contribute vocals. But it's the guitar-centric aesthetic of the music — bolstered by axe slingers Mark Cuminale (of the now-defunct Dream Girls) and Howlo's Justin Pulver — that ultimately sells this thing.
Pallini's lyrics are beautifully simple and transparent, revealing a sweet vulnerability, particularly in the weird optimism of "Love Dumpster" and the poignant, pop-inflected "Nothing Left to Hide." The album ends in a bit of a non sequitur — a dark, emo-tinged song listed simply as " * " — but the confessional nature of the lyrics is oddly irresistible. Pallini seems fixated on mortality, but the result is paradoxically life-affirming.